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Einhorn Guilty of Murdering His Ex-Girlfriend

Jury finds hippie guru bludgeoned Holly Maddux to death in September 1977. He gets life sentence and harsh words from judge.

October 18, 2002|John J. Goldman | Times Staff Writer

PHILADELPHIA — A jury took less than three hours Thursday to find Ira Einhorn guilty of murdering his former girlfriend and hiding her body in a trunk, ending a long struggle to bring the onetime counterculture guru to justice.

Einhorn stood flanked by his lawyers and swallowed hard when the verdict was announced. He declined when the judge gave him an opportunity to speak.

"The sentence of this court is you be remanded to the prison system for the rest of your life," said Judge William J. Mazzola. He delivered a scathing critique of Einhorn, who fled Philadelphia on the eve of his trial in 1981 for bludgeoning 30-year-old Helen "Holly" Maddux to death in September 1977.

Mazzola called Einhorn "an intellectual dilettante who preyed on the uninitiated, uninformed, unsuspecting and inexperienced people."

The judge pictured him as a "pseudo-classist" and "someone who buys a book and reads the first and last chapter ... and gives the implication he is drowning in insight."

After guards took Einhorn away, Mazzola permitted the jury to reenter the courtroom to answer questions from reporters.

One juror, echoing the sentiment of the other five men and six women on the panel, offered a harsher evaluation of Einhorn. "He had a warped mind on life. You can't say it any plainer. He thought he was God," Tracy Garett said.

"I am still mad he was able to have a trial without the death penalty," Garett added.

Einhorn was discovered in France living in a comfortable farmhouse under the alias Eugene Mallon.

Einhorn was returned to the United States in 2001, after prosecutors assured French authorities that he would be retried and would not face the death penalty.

Einhorn had been tried in absentia in 1993, and was convicted and sentenced to life in prison.

Einhorn's lead attorney, William T. Cannon, said his client would appeal.

The 18-day trial, which moved faster than lawyers anticipated, provided a brief window into the Age of Aquarius and the pre-AIDS '70s, when Einhorn was a Philadelphia hippie celebrity with a talent for picking up women, writing voluminous diaries, and, witnesses testified, inflating his resume.

Einhorn, who called himself the Prince of Flower Power, was accused of killing Maddux after she ended their sometimes-turbulent five-year relationship.

Prosecutors pictured the case as a classic example of domestic violence and jealousy.

Einhorn's defense presented a different theory: That some agency, perhaps the CIA or another intelligence service, had placed Maddux's mummified body in a locked trunk in a locked closet in Einhorn's apartment.

Also in the closet were boxes containing Maddux's clothing and a cloth purse with her driver's license, Social Security card and other documents.

Prosecution witnesses testified that after Maddux told Einhorn she had found another boyfriend, he threatened to throw her belongings into the street. She then traveled to Einhorn's apartment in Philadelphia to retrieve her possessions.

When Maddux failed to contact her parents or sisters, family members hired private detectives to find her.

The investigators grew suspicious when they learned that Einhorn had asked two friends to dump into a river a trunk he said contained secret documents. They refused.

On March 28, 1979, police armed with a search warrant entered the apartment and found Maddux's mummified remains.

In his closing argument, Cannon claimed in Common Pleas Court the mere fact Maddux's body was found in Einhorn's apartment was "just a piece of circumstantial evidence."

"It doesn't mean at all that Ira Einhorn is responsible for her murder," the defense lawyer said.

Prosecutor Joel Rosen called Cannon's claim "so laughable and so ludicrous, it is outrageous" and told the jurors that they should be offended.

"If a woman wasn't brutally murdered, you would almost laugh at it," the assistant district attorney said.

Prosecution witnesses testified that Einhorn tried to buy a book on how to mummify a body, and former neighbors related how distressed they were by a foul-smelling liquid dripping into their apartment from his closet.

Some of the strongest evidence, jurors said, came from entries in Einhorn's 20,000 pages of diaries that related his satisfaction after beating and choking two other women who wanted to end relationships with him.

Before sentencing, Margaret Wakeman spoke briefly to the court.

She described her slain sister -- a former cheerleader and graduate of Bryn Mawr College near Philadelphia -- as gifted and compassionate and the "leading light of our family."

When the proceedings were finished, Elizabeth Hall, another of Maddux's sisters, called Einhorn "a common abuser and a common con man."

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